Part II: Female Hackers Face Challenges

But the sexual gantlet seems to fade with experience. Defcon’s Dark Tangent says top-rank hackers generally stay away from the IRC channels, waiting to see whose thirst for knowledge is great enough to survive the savage atmosphere. To them, skill is all that matters, not the body it comes in.

“When you interact with people such as the L0pht, or the cDc or the most experienced members of the hacker culture, gender is a non-issue. It’s what you know that matters, and less who you are,” says Javaman, a Philadelphia-area hacker. “There is sexism at the lowest levels, but among the more skilled people, the more able people, it really is a non-issue.”

And at conventions, hackers seem to love nothing more than a woman who can fix a network breakdown. Though they’re tormented online, for some reason the rare women in hacking are treasured in person, female hackers say.

“Girls are victimized only in the bodiless state … in the flesh, they’re objects of wonder and fascination,” says Milhon.

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